“Happy Birthday Dear Heartache”
Written by Mack David and Archie Jordan
Radio & Records
#1 (1 week)
March 30, 1984
A dispiriting trend in this series has been big stars enjoying their final No. 1 single with lesser efforts.
That makes logical sense, of course. Usually star power is enough to get lesser material across the finish line. But it’s still disappointing to write about an artist for the last time and not have many nice things to say about their final No. 1 record.
“Happy Birthday Dear Heartache” is beautifully sung, but that’s about all I can put in the plus column for it. Everything else about it is either incredibly derivative or downright bizzare.
You’ve heard this melody and production a million times before, and they accompany a flat out weird lyric that has Mandrell celebrating the birthday of her getting dumped. With a cake. And one candle. And a promise to do the same thing next year.
It’s so strange that if you told me it had been on SCTV as a parody, I would believe you.
Mandrell remained a presence on country radio for most of the eighties, earning her final top five hit in 1988 with “I Wish I Could Fall in Love Today.” She was a major label artist through the early nineties, and recorded “Do You Know Where Your Man Is” two years before Pam Tillis, who eventually had a top twenty hit with it.
Her autobiography was turned into a made for television movie later in the decade, and while she retired from performing in 1997, she has continued to earn accolades for her career. She’s a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Country Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame, and the Musicians Hall of Fame, and just last year, she celebrated her fiftieth anniversary of being a Grand Ole Opry member.
Her career overall gets an A, but…
“Happy Birthday Dear Heartache” gets a D.
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